Music Review: B.o.B – Who the F#*k is B.o.B.? (2008)
If you can find the no-DJ version somewhere, this is just about a perfect hip-hop mixtape.
Look at that absolutely ridiculous mixtape cover. No, I’m not talking about the potentially seizure-inducing colors. I’m talking about the DJs listed at the top who helped mix this tape. There’s not one, not two, but THREE DJs listed. If you download a lot of hip-hop mixtapes, you know that’s a bad thing. The most annoying thing about hip-hop mixtapes are how the DJs sometimes yell over the songs, usually at the beginning or end of a song. With this mixtape, you have three different DJs doing that. And not only that, but all three of them are awful. DJ Scream in particular really lives up to his name. I know some people who say they can’t even listen to this mixtape because of how terrible the screams are.
I’m not one of those people, but the yelling DJs definitely take away from my enjoyment of this mixtape. Without them on it, this is just about perfect. If B.o.B’s album was more like this, it would’ve been a classic. Unfortunately, most copies of this mixtape that you’ll find floating around the internet have all the DJs on it.
Even saying all of that, I’d still highly recommend getting this mixtape even with the DJs on it; you get used to it after a little while. The music itself is outstanding, and it’s almost completely a B.o.B production — he produced most of the beats (though he obviously did sample a lot of older stuff as you can see in the video above), he raps and sings, and he actually plays some of the instruments you hear. And for the record, he can actually play instruments unlike Lil’ Wayne who only thinks he can.
If you were introduced to B.o.B through songs like Nothin’ on You and Airplanes, you might be a little surprised at what this mixtape has in store — all you really have to do is look at the cover of the mixtape to know it’ll be vastly different from his radio hits. This song would never exist on his album. It’s not like the labels completely changed B.o.B for his album, they just made his sound a lot poppier and radio-friendly — when you listen to this mixtape, you can tell that B.o.B is still a really talented and intelligent lyricist. In fact, his lyricism here is better than on his album — there are no terrible lines on this mixtape like “You the whole package, plus you pay your taxes”.
Something I touched on a little bit earlier was how I mentioned that B.o.B sings — and as you can tell from the video above, the dude can actually sing (which a lot of people probably don’t know since his two huge hits have guest hooks). This isn’t Royce da 5’9″ who does some really bizarre singing. In fact, I think B.o.B is the best rapper out there today when it comes to doing a chorus. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony come to mind, but lately they’ve been really hit-or-miss.
There’s enough variation from song to song to keep you interested the whole way through and the mixtape’s over before you know it. On one end of the spectrum there’s the simplistic Generation Lost that allows the audience to just concentrate on B.o.B’s words, and then on the other hand you have songs like Service With a Smile. B.o.B has everything covered.
There’s a place for B.o.B’s album, and for poppy rap his album was pretty good. To be honest, I think Airplanes from his album is better than anything on this mixtape (but I’m a little biased and think Airplanes is the best thing ever made by human beings). But as a whole, there’s really no doubt in my mind that this mixtape is so much more consistent than his album and superior in almost every way.
Score for No-DJ version: 9.5/10
Score for DJ-filled version: 8.5/10